Wednesday, June 29, 2011

30/06 VOX POPULI: How many Afghans will perish in the coming 'peace'?

Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a daily column that runs on Page 1 of the vernacular Asahi Shimbun.

The brightness of rape blossom fields symbolizes hope and future. A girl with a beaming smile is picking flowers in a bright yellow field against a background of rugged mountains in Afghanistan. The scene is from a photograph taken by Kazuya Ito, who was killed by an armed group in Afghanistan three years ago while providing agricultural training to local farmers. He was 31.

Ito apparently saw hope in the clear eyes of children in the war-torn country. He left many photos of local children. The expressions I saw in some of them overlapped with a heartrending story that appeared on the international news page of The Asahi Shimbun on June 28.

According to the report, an 8-year-old girl carrying a package that contained a bomb died as it exploded. The girl was asked by someone to deliver the package to a police facility. The package had a built-in remote control device and as she approached the facility, the bomb went off and killed her. I feel so sorry for her and find the act abominable and inhumane.

"These long wars will come to a responsible end," U.S. President Barack Obama stated when he announced plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan last week. However, from now on, how many Afghans will be left behind by such "peace" and perish? For people living there, it is hard to actually feel the restoration of peace and order.

Iranian film director Mohsen Makhamalbaf, who shot a movie set in Afghanistan, said: If only U.S. forces had dropped books instead of bombs. The literacy rate of Afghan men is 50 percent. That of women is only 18 percent. Ignorance and poverty provide a breeding ground of violence and terrorism.

Ito's parents set up a "rape blossom fund" to carry out the wishes of their son who died without fulfilling his ambitions. With the donations they collected, last month, they presented a local school with a dormitory to accommodate orphans and children who live far away. It may be a long way but I want to believe that someday, peaceful everyday life will return to the devastated land.

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 29

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.

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